Into your eyes, hopeless and taken. We stole our new lives – through blood and pain – in defense of our dreams.
~'Kings and Queens', 30 Seconds to Mars
Hawkeye watches him wake; watches the steady rise and fall of his chest, feels the gentle pulse of his heart beneath her hand. He's older now, she thinks, examining the first faint evidence of wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. Outside, the world is coming into bloom, the promise of a new life echoing from a distance; they'd won. And for once, while everyone else is rebuilding their own lives, standing on their own two feet and walking forward, she is not struggling to hold them together, not taking the weight of the world on her shoulders. She is right where she should be, guiding Mustang through this brave new world, letting him see the progress – the good he's done, that they've all done – in the way her fingers gently grasp his arm and lead him forward, in the gentle sound of her voice describing the world around him.
Mustang's eyelids flutter open and close a moment later, his hand covering her own. The scars have faded now, this mark that has branded them and bound them to one another for life. She watches – her breathing even and measured – as he explores her, fingertips trailing up the length of her arm to settle on the ridged scar at the side of her neck. Her breath catches in her throat, and her whole body stiffens, just barely.
"You're awake," he says, voice still fumbling behind the haze of sleep.
"Force of habit," she replies, glancing toward the clock – o'eight hundred – more than two hours later than normal. "It's been some time since I've had a day off."
"My fault, I suppose," he reasons, and cups her cheek. His skin is hot like fire, and, her gaze locks on his, though empty, when he opens his eyes once more. Force of habit, she repeats to herself as she's unable to break the connection. His thumb traces the line of her lips, the strong curve of her chin. "You're beautiful," he adds, voice softening.
"Sir, you can't even see me," she comments wryly, but nonetheless covers his hand with her own. "For all you know, I'm scarred and mangled all over."
"You've always been beautiful," he reasons. His fingers reach further to comb through her hair, and she moves to sit up. "Don't go," he pleads, catching her shoulder in his hand. "Stay with me a while longer?"
For once, she doesn't think twice about wrapping herself around him and pulling the covers over their heads.
Hawkeye doesn't know how many years it's been, but she remembers the way his hand cradles the back of her neck, the way his hair slips through her fingers.
She'd been a girl before, a child thrown on the already-ravaged battlefield to become a woman. That night, staring into the fire with Kimblee's words echoing in her ears, she'd finally broken. She'd flinched away as Mustang's hand fell to her shoulder, burning, only to come back to him, his mouth searing against her own. She'd cried then, the familiar smell of his skin lulling her to sleep.
It's him, she thinks. It's always been him.
The tables turn now, and she guides his hands with her own, running her fingers up his arms as he remembers. There are still no words of love between them, not even as he collapses against her, his body slick with sweat. He breaks, and she wipes away his tears, whispering soothing nonsense against his ear.
It's in this moment she realizes it will always – always – be him.
"What was it like?" she asks, rubbing the scar ointment into the wounds on her neck and shoulder.
"What was what like?" he parrots, sitting up in bed as if he's watching her. It startles her sometimes, how much, and yet so little has changed since he lost his sight.
She leans against the dresser and watches him, smoothing the cream into her flesh. "The Truth," she clarifies, then adds quickly, "You don't have to answer if you don't want to."
He shakes his head and runs his fingers through his hair. "It was . . . everything and nothing like I thought it would be." The light from the street filters across his face, illuminating a strange expression there. "It wasn't omniscience, like I knew everything at all. It was . . . it was like every moment in my life came together and . . . and just made sense."
"And what did you see?" she whispers and sits on the bed beside him, his thigh warm and real against her own.
"I saw Hughes, and Ishval," he says thoughtfully, seeming very far away. "I saw you."
She stiffens a little at that, a lump forming at the back of her throat.
"Your face was the last thing I saw, and then . . . darkness."
Her hand trembles as it finds his, their fingers tangling as they sit in thoughtful silence.
"I miss your smile," he says one evening over dinner.
She freezes the instant those words reach her ears. There's no way to respond, not really.
"I wish I could see you again," he continues, his dinner left untouched. "I know that sounds cliché, but – I think about it often. I thought you should know."
That night, after they make love, his fingertips trail over the lines on her back, long since memorized. She wonders if he remembers the way her body trembled that first night she showed him her truth, or the way she finally fell with him, years later in Ishval, seeking solace in familiarity. She falls asleep with his head over her heart, fingers threaded through his hair.
One rainy evening, she reads to him. They're curled up on the sofa with Hayate at their feet, and his fingers trace the words on the page as she reads them. Life has settled again, the frantic long nights of rebellion that had become the norm now replaced with quiet domesticity. It's different, she thinks, and she's not quite sure if she'll be content to live a demure life forever, but for now she welcomes the reprieve. For once she can let her guard down and depend on something other than herself or loyalty; the weight of Mustang's arm across her lap, and the steady rhythm of his hand skimming over the Braille are things she can rely on without question, as simple as they may be; simple pleasures and simple reasons in a simple world.
She smiles inwardly when he jumps ahead of her, and pulls his fingers back to where she is, palm pressing against the back of his hand.
"You're slow," he teases, turning his palm up into hers and lacing their fingers.
"I'm reading out loud," she reminds him, struggling to summon up some sternness. "You're getting faster," she adds.
"I had a good teacher," he replies with a smirk, and rubs Hayate's back with his foot.
The storm outside grows in strength, and the pattering of raindrops against the window punctuates the silence. Hawkeye stands to start a fire in the fireplace, something completely alien to her in Mustang's presence. "What do you think you'll do now?" she asks, turning to watch his expression.
"What I've always done," he answers decidedly. "I'll keep pushing forward. Will you still follow me?"
"Into Hell, sir," she replies, and returns to the couch, tugging the blanket from the edge to wrap round her shoulders. "Do you really have to ask?" She settles into his arms with a sigh and pulls out the book once more, picking up from where she left off. His hand guides the way.
Domesticity will never suit her, she realizes with regret, but for now, she can enjoy the happiness she'd missed out on long ago. And though Mustang is now blind, and will likely never see again, there's a comfort and safety in his presence she can't ignore.
The lights flicker for a moment, and then plunge them into darkness. She's about to find some candles when he interrupts her, having turned the page and started anew, his hands gliding gracefully across the coded words. His voice takes her breath away, and she finds both hope and grief at the words he reads.
"There was a time when meadow grove and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;
Turn whereso'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more."